Picture Books About Diversity and Celebrating Difference
Picture books help children make sense of the world whilst exposing them to diverse characters and perspectives that they may not encounter in their everyday.
As somebody who grew up in a multicultural household and community, I am passionate about ensuring that my kids’ bookshelves are heaving with picture books about diversity and celebrating difference.
Here are some of our favourites.
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Want to Play Trucks? By Ann Stott and Bob Graham
This book does an exquisite job on a few levels. It highlights how we can all like different things and still get along nicely. It is a book that also gently challenges gender stereotypes.
The beauty lies in the way it does so without being didactic and preachy.
Jack likes trucks. Alex likes dolls with sparkles.
But Jack doesn’t want to play dolls and Alex doesn’t want to play trucks.
They don’t let this difference get in the way of a fun time playing in the sandpit and resolve the situation through compromise.
Same but Little Bit Diff’rent by Kylie Dunstan
“Right up the very top of Australia there is a special place. My friend Normie comes from there, and he says, ‘Things are different to what you might see in the city. Same, but little bit diff’rent….”
This gorgeous book juxtaposes the reality of Normie with that of his city-dwelling friend.
They compare elements of their everyday lives, pastimes and families.
A gorgeous text for highlighting that we can have more in common than we realise.
All the Ways to Be Smart by Davina Bell and Alison Colpoys
“Smart is not just ticks and crosses, smart is building boats from boxes.”
This book needs to be in the hands of every policy-maker in the sphere of Education, in every classroom, in every library, and in every home.
I intend on reading it every NAPLAN season to gently let my students know that what makes you unique can’t be shown in the data from a standardised test. *excuse my creaky knees as I get off my soap box*
This book is an utterly glorious call to celebrate your strengths and your own unique smarts.
Davina Bell and Alison Colpoys are a dream team of picture book creators.
Perfectly You by Amy Cox and Caitlyn Burchell
Disclaimer: Amy Cox from Playful Little Learners is one of my InstaBuds and she is a brilliant person.
She is passionate about giving kids the space to develop into their own selves through play.
This mum of 4 is one inspirational powerhouse.
Amy has teamed up with another InstaLegend, Caitlyn Burchell, to produce this rhyming text that encourages little ones to embrace what makes them unique. It feels as though you are reading a mother’s love letter to her child.
Perfectly You is only available via The Creative Toyshop.
You can purchase the Happy Hands eBook that I contributed to with Amy and other Aussie Instamums by clicking the image below.
Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann
Leaf was one of my top picture book picks for 2017.
My words will never do justice to this exquisite book.
A polar bear appears in the woods. The other animals are filled with mistrust.
Why does he keep covering himself in leaves? What does he want?
This glorious book gently highlights the plight of polar bears in a warmer world.
More importantly, we are shown how xenophobia is poisonous to us all. How outsiders need our kindness and helping hands more than our judgement.
Seems pretty apt for our current world situation, no?
My Color is Rainbow by Agnes Hsu and Yuliya Gwylim
My friend Agnes is a powerhouse. She emailed to tell me about this idea she had for a picture book.
Within a few months, I was holding that very idea in my hands.
Little White Arch is trying to find his place in the world. He wonders what his colour could be.
He meets many characters along the way who try to convince him of the merits of being their colour.
This is a lovely tale about not needing to be defined by any one single thing. An ode to diversity, acceptance and kindness.
Befitting the title, the illustrations are a riot of colours.
Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer
This gorgeous board book celebrates the small everyday acts of love that take place within a family home.
The vibrant illustrations depict families in all their glorious, diverse forms.
What makes a family a family? Love.
Tropical Terry by Jarvis
When this book arrived, it was ON REPEAT FOR WEEKS.
It tells the tale of Terry, a plain-looking little fish. He yearns to be flashy and fancy-like like the tropical fish.
With a little help from his friends, he manages to turn himself into a dolled-up tropical fish. Which proves problematic when faced with a dangerous predator.
I love this book’s message of playing to your strengths. Sure, those tropical fish may look all fancy-like and flashy, but embracing what makes you unique is where it’s at, right? I also love that it reminds us of how good friends will stick by you (even if you forget your seaweed roots and try to swim with the cool school fish.)
The illustrations are a kaleidoscope of vibrant colour and we’ve spent much quality time poring over them.
Welcome by Barroux
A trio of polar bears are living a peaceful life until the piece of ice they are on breaks off. They are set adrift in a vast ocean.
They arrive at land on several occasions, but the animal inhabitants of each place reject or ignore the bears’ pleas for a place to live.
Finally, they discover an empty island. Until three monkeys appear looking for a home. Will the bears welcome them?
Barroux’s beautiful story was inspired by the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis and promotes inclusiveness and welcomeness for children.
There are many mixed reviews on this book. Many are critical of Barroux’s seemingly simple and trivial treatment of a complex issue. I feel that this is not Barroux’s best work by far. I do however feel that this is a lovely text for opening discussions with children about how we can be inclusive.
Stanley Paste by Aaron Blabey
I am a mammoth Aaron Blabey fan girl.
Stanley Paste is different. He is really small and this leads to a range of problems and unwanted attention.
Then Eleanor Cabbage arrives. She is the tallest girl Stanley has ever seen.
Eleanor’s height leads to a range of problems and similar attention.
The two form a tight friendship.
As always, Aaron Blabey addresses deep themes like acceptance and empathy in a joyful and humorous way.
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
I have not actually read this book or held it in my own hands.
I have, however, read many rave reviews about it. So I’m including it in this list to remind myself to source it!
From all that I have read on it, this book is a spectacular ode to self-love and embracing individuality.
I asked the good people of Instagram what their favourite picture books about diversity were, and they came back with an impressive list.
You can see more suggestions here on that post.
Buy your picture books about diversity-
The images and titles of each book will take you to Book Depository. As a Book Depository Affiliate, purchases clicked through from my blog result in a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books! Commission is used to maintain Oh Creative Day. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy here.
The Amazon links will take you to Amazon. I am also an affiliate with Amazon and will receive a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books.
If you prefer, you can order from Australian based online bookstore Booktopia.
Thanks for your support. Happy reading!
Some of the books in this post were provided free for review purposes. I always post my honest opinions and never post books that I do not rate.
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